The rate increases will help pay for a $1.7 million grant the town is using to help replace water lines throughout the city. Some of the money will be forgiven, but the town would have to pay back most of it over a 25-year period.
"We really don't have any choice," said Gate City Vice Mayor Roger Cassell, who is also the chairman of the Gate City Sanitation Authority. "This study was done in 2005, 12 years ago, and Mattern and Craig told us then these sewer lines needed replacing."
Cassell told members of the Gate City Town Council if the town turned down the grant money, they may never get another chance at it.
He told the board every inch of rainfall increases the town's sewage flow to the Scott County Public Service Authority by 1 million gallons. Gate City has to pay the PSA for the amount of sewage flow, and the town is basically treating rain water instead of sewage, which costs the town more money.
Most months, Gate City pays 60 to 67 percent of the operating costs of the water treatment plant, Cassell said. Ideally, the town would not pay more than 50 percent.
Replacing the pipes and stopping illegal connections could help lower those costs and ultimately save the town money.
Starting on Jan. 1, residents will see their sewage bill increase from the current minimum rate of $26.68 for 2,000 gallons to $28.85 for 2,000 gallons. Commercial properties will pay an even higher rate, going from $26.68 for 2,000 gallons to $29.50 for 2,000 gallons.
Residents who exceed 2,000 gallons will have to pay an extra $9.40 for every 1,000 gallons. The current rate for residents who exceed 2,000 gallons is $8.12 per 1,000 gallons. Businesses who use more than 2,000 gallons will pay $10.95 per every 1,000 gallons. The current rate is $8.12 for every 1,000 gallons.
"I apologize for having to do it, but we've kicked this around and waited for 12 years," Cassell told the board. "We didn't even expect when we started talking about this to get the grant."
In other business, the council:
— Approved a special exception to allow a business on West Jackson Street to operate in a residential zone.
— Gave permission to the Gate City Police Department to apply for a grant to purchase Naloxone for officers.
— Transferred $10,000 from the water fund to the water reserve fund.
— Gave permission to advertise for three public hearings regarding a rural development grant, zoning definition amendments and amending the noise ordinance.